Skittles lawsuit claims candy is ‘unfit for human consumption’

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A California man has sued Mars, the company that makes rainbow-colored Skittles, claiming that the use of titanium dioxide in the candies makes them “unfit for human consumption”.

The use of the additive – which is used as a coloring – in food is not illegal in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration allows its use in most foods, although it limits it to 1% of a food’s weight. Mars maintains that he did nothing wrong. “Although we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide is in compliance with FDA regulations,” a Mars spokeswoman said in a statement given to The Washington Post.

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But the class action lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of San Leandro resident Jenile Thames and others who purchased the candy, argues that the company’s inability to warn consumers of the potential dangers of titanium dioxide amounts to fraud by omission as well as other violations of California law.

Mars announced in 2016 that it planned to remove artificial colors from its products over the next five years and clarified later that titanium dioxide was among the dyes it would phase out. “Defendant breached its own promise to consumers,” the lawsuit alleges. “More than six years later, the defendant continues to sell the products with [titanium dioxide] without the knowledge of reasonable consumers who purchase the Products. »

The European Commission titanium dioxide ban as a food additive in the European Union comes into full force in August. European regulators have cited concerns that a buildup of titanium dioxide particles in a person’s body could cause genotoxicity, the ability of a substance to damage DNA, potentially causing cancer. The UK, however, didn’t come to the same conclusion and still allows it.

The California filing, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges that Mars failed to inform consumers of the presence of the dye, which it describes as “unfit for human consumption.”

“Defendant relies on the list of ingredients that is provided in lower case type on the back of the products, which is made even more difficult to read by the lack of color contrast between the font and the packaging,” it alleges. he.

The lawsuit notes that other candy brands, including Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish and Nerds, are brightly colored like Skittles – but don’t rely on titanium dioxide.

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